Fannie Mae Clackum & Grace Garner

Fannie-Mae-Clackum.jpgFannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner were the first people to successfully challenge a discharge on the grounds of homosexuality from the U.S military.

Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner served as US Air Force Reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When the Air Force suspected them of having a homosexual relationship, it arranged for a four-person overnight trip and motel stay. The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations used those events as the basis of a series of interrogations in April 1951. Clackum and Garner refused to accept the dishonorable discharges the Air Force offered them and demanded a court-martial.

They were demoted from corporal to private, discharged in early 1952 and lived together in Marietta, Georgia. They spent eight years fighting their discharges in the US Court of Claims claiming denial of due process when denied courts-martial and discharged administratively. They prevailed in 1960 when the court invalidated the discharges and awarded them their back military pay for the remainder of their enlistment periods. The court found it "unthinkable" that the Air Force would burden them with undesirable discharges "without respect for even the most elementary notions of due process of law". Theirs is the earliest known case of the successful appeal of a discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces on grounds of homosexuality, though the case turned on due process claims, not homosexuality as the basis for their exclusion from military service.

 

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have contributed significantly in several ways to the advancement of our community. Limited by the number of days on the calendar, showcasing every individual who has made a major impact would be difficult. Yet, across decades and eras, revolutions and wars, and discovery and enlightenment, SPART*A honors past and present LGBT figures in our history this month.

 


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